BLOCK BY BLOCK is screening at the 20th annual Architecture + City Festival in San Francisco! Join us at the City College Chinatown Campus for a campus tour and panel discussion, and to learn more about the historic battle for the first community college in Chinatown!

Buy your tickets now!

General Admission: $10 | Student: Free | RSVP Required

Visit for updates and to view a full calendar of Festival events!

The “Block by Block” film is part of the “Oral History Project” by Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA, a nationally recognized civil and immigrant rights non-profit organization based in San Francisco Chinatown). Collaborators on the project include the UC Berkeley Asian American Research Center and the UCB Ethnic Studies Library.


Note: Arrive at 4:45 PM and take a quick tour of the Chinatown North Beach Community College Campus; this program features a 1/2 hour film presentation and discussion.

4:45 PM  Arrive early
5:00 PM – Tour starts
6:00 PM  Program Begins
6:15 PM – Film Screening
6:45 PM – Discussion + Q&A
7:15 PM – Mingling / Light Reception

Program Description

For over a century and a half, the Chinese have worked long and hard to establish and maintain a residential and commercial community in San Francisco. Against adversity, whether created by nature (the 1906 Earthquake) or man-made (Chinese Exclusion legislation), the Chinese have fought to survive and thrive. Only a few decades after the demolition of the infamous International Hotel on the very same block of Manilatown, political power brokers paid by monied property owners attempted to obfuscate the environmental review process, in this case to obstruct the construction of a world-class Community College facility for largely low-income, limited English proficient adults.

Education, revered as a gateway for immigrants to elevate themselves and their families out of poverty, leads to the American dream of social acceptance and economic advancement. It took decades to secure public financing, identify a site, and move from several substandard locations scattered throughout Chinatown/North Beach, to a new central location for a Community College Campus (beautifully designed by EHDD and Barcelon Jang Architecture).

The film Block By Block presents the many obstacles laid out by San Francisco big money, power and greed, as they waged a public relations war to stop the new Chinatown/North Beach Community College (CNBCC). In response, with equal determination fueled by a sense of indignation and outrage, a broad and diverse coalition, Friends of Educational Opportunities in Chinatown (FEOC), organized rallies, radio/TV/newsprint and petition campaigns, educators, students, non-profits, labor unions, churches and family associations to fight for community self-determination. All these forces collided in a climatic vote shown in the film. This is a San Francisco “hometown” story, where audiences can explore and learn — who decides for a historic community, the role and responsibilities of professionals (designers, planners, attorneys, advocates) to neighborhood residents, how a low-income minority community can win against overwhelming odds.

Participants interviewed in the film are longtime community social justice activists, an urban planner, an educator and administrator, a former Community College student organiser, and special legal counsel to the S.F. Community College.


The discussion panel will be comprised of the EHDD Architect for the project, one of San Francisco’s leading land use attorneys and members of the FEOC community coalition that appeared in the film:

Jennifer Devlin-Herbert, CEO of EHDD, Project Architect for Chinatown North Beach Community College (in partnership with Barcelon Jang Architecture)
Alice Barkley, Attorney for CNBCC Project
Jennie Lew, Urban Planner and FEOC member
Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of CAA (Chinese for Affirmative Action) and FEOC Member

Questions? Contact